Environmental regulator denies Greenidge Generation’s air permits over cryptocurrency mining

More

Yvonne Taylor and other protestors gather outside the Greenidge Generation Facility last year before the facility’s Bitcoin mining expansion was approved. (Vaughn Golden/WSKG)

 

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation denied the renewal of permits for the Greenidge Generation power plant in Yates County Tuesday, after months of protest over the facility’s cryptocurrency mining operation.

In a 20-page ruling, the DEC maintained its previous position that the facility did not comply with New York’s statutory climate goals, which stipulate that all energy generation facilities, like Greenidge, be zero-emissions by 2040.

“It was fairly clear that the emissions increases and changes of the nature of the facility gave us no reason to approve it, so today we denied that application,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos told WSKG Thursday.

In a statement released shortly after the ruling, a Greenidge spokesperson wrote the company will seek an administrative appeal to reverse the DEC’s decision.

“This is a standard air permit renewal governing emissions levels for a facility operating in full compliance with its existing permit today,” Greenidge wrote in a statement. “It is not, and cannot be transformed into, a politically charged ‘cryptocurrency permit’.”

Yvonne Taylor, Vice President of Seneca Lake Guardian, an environmental group that has been protesting the facility, said her group and other environmental advocacy organizations are prepared to fight Greenidge’s appeal.

“We’re fully prepared to fight that,” Taylor said. “I think it’s clear. There’ve been other decisions coming out that uphold New York’s bold climate law, denying permits for Astoria and Danskammer, even though those companies appealed.”

Last year, the DEC denied applications for new air pollution permits covering two new facilities – the Astoria and Danskammer generation station. The DEC’s decision Thursday expands upon that precedent to include permit renewals, not just new permits.

Seggos played down the notion that the denial of Greenidge’s permits creates a precedent, noting that the circumstances in this case were particularly unique.

“I know folks want to look at this as the next, set a precedent for the next decision that will be coming our way, but we will be looking at everything in a case by case basis,” Seggos said.

The commissioner also denied accusations that Gov. Kathy Hochul instructed the DEC to deny the considerations of the permits until after statewide primary elections. Seggos said Hochul played “no hand” in the consideration of the permits.

“No hand whatsoever,” Seggos said. “That’s how we operate here. We rely on the facts and the science. The governor’s office learned about this when the public did.”

Hochul has yet to sign legislation passed by the Legislature that would implement a two-year moratorium on new cryptocurrency mining facilities at fossil fuel burning power plants.